Fresh Strength MSA
ms website tabMs Discuss Tabmssubscribems Archive Tab
April 1, 2013  
Donna Jackson
Donna Jackson
Ministerial Spouses
Association leader

From the pen 

of Donna... 


Hi friends, 


Do you have too much month at the end of your money? In your family, is contentment more elusive than a nagging anxiety over your finances? Do you switch the conversation when a friend begins talking about being prepared for retirement?


If you've answered yes to most of the above questions, then you are in good company. A study on NAD ministerial families, released last month by Andrews University and Southern Adventist University, reported more than 70 percent of the participants experience financial insecurity as the top stressor in their ministerial homes.  


In preparation for writing on this issue's theme, family finances, I found myself resonating more with titles like Personal Finance for Dummies than the other blow-horn ones like Think and Grow Rich and The One Minute Millionaire (right!). Read more.

Desiree Bryant
The Gift that Keeps Giving

Desiree Bryant shares the story of her mother's triumph, amidst severe financial challenges and racial unrest, to give the gift that keeps giving to her three daughters.   


Desiree, who serves as an associate superintendent of education in the Potomac Conference of SDAs, lives in Laurel, Maryland, with her husband, Pastor G. Alexander Bryant, NAD executive secretary. They have three sons: Travis, Traven, and Terrance, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Watch here

Becky Johnson
My Faithful God

When my brother, Dannie, and I were growing up, our dad was a school teacher. He got paid once a month, and sometimes the money just barely made it to the end of the month. You could tell which months those were by what we ate. Suppers would be soup and crackers, and lunches at school would be just a bean and pickle sandwich or a cream cheese sandwich with peanuts. Both were good, but the bean sandwich was very messy.


One evening, my parents were talking to each other, and Dad said, "We have no more money and we have a week to go before payday." Read more.

We'd like to hear from you, too. Take your smartphone or iPad, and ask someone to film you sharing a short testimony or story about what God is doing in your life. Upload your video clip to a video-sharing site like or, and then email your video link to us.
10 Commandments of Personal Finance


Jennifer Newton believes every financial decision should be a spiritual decision. She discusses the most important principle of her "Ten Commandments of Personal Finance" for getting your finances under control. Jennifer is interviewed by Carin Morgan-Villalvas in this Keeping it Real video. Watch here.

Jennifer Newton is a the assistant ministerial secretary of the Pacific Union Conference, and also is employed as a health care management consultant. With more than 30 years experience as a pastoral and administrative spouse, she has a deep love and concern for pastoral families.
A Weird View of Money


In this video, Dave Ramsey shares God's basic plan for financial management.


Dave is a Christian financial author, radio host, television personality and motivational speaker. His show and writings strongly encourage people to get out of debt. Watch here.


We welcome your proven parenting tips, family worship ideas, financial tips (low budget anything!), family management ideas and decluttering strategies. Submit your ideas here.

John Mathews
Tax Man Comes


In a few weeks, the Internal Revenue Service will be looking for your tax return. Don't forget to file; and remember, you do not want to be audited either. Fill out the forms with the best counsel possible. 


Here is one reason you need to be careful in filling out your tax return, if you're married to an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


Under the Federal Income Contribution Act, known as FICA code, clergy are excluded from the normal FICA definition of an employee but, instead, are included under Self-Employment Compensation Act, SECA. A SDA clergy is an employee but, at the same time, treated as self-employed for Social Security taxes. This has to do with the requirement to make quarterly payments into Social Security. Social Security tax is not withheld from the pay of clergy as done for regular employees. On the income tax side, the IRS allows self-employed clergy the parsonage exclusion that a regular employee does not qualify for. 


What are some resources a pastor who is treated as self-employed can use for filing? Tom Wetmore is from the Office of General Counsel at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and specializes in tax issues. I asked him for a list of his favorite resource recommendations on tax preparation for clergy. Read more.

God is our refuge 
and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  
Psalm 46:1 NLT
When Great Loss Strikes


The sad event of the death of a minister prior to retirement creates a crisis in the family. A grieving widow finds herself in the position of needing to make difficult decisions at a time she is overwhelmed by circumstances. Survivor benefits designed to provide a modest living in retirement are often frighteningly inadequate in the pre-retirement timeframe, particularly if there are mortgage payments and/or tuition expenses. "If only I'd known, I'd have made sure we carried more insurance." Read more.

De Leons
Carolann and César 
De León
Conflicting Values Create Stress at Home


Question: My pastor/spouse wants me to go find a job so we can pay off our college and seminary loans. The problem is that our two sons are three years old and one-and-a-half years old. I always dreamed of staying home with my children until they began school. I do agree with my spouse that it is hard to live off one salary, especially in our high-cost living area, but I don't want to leave our boys with a babysitter or at a daycare center. What do you recommend? --Happy-at-home ministry spouse  Read more. 


Click here to submit questions to the counselors, Carolann and César De León.


Glimpses Into a Pastoral Spouse's Life


In this interview with Josh Withers, Caleb VinCross talks about expectations, stereotypes, role definition, supporting one another and team ministry. Caleb is married to Tara VinCross, senior pastor of Chestnut Hill Church and REACH Philadelphia Church, a church plant. Watch here.


Periodically, we feature articles of interest to men whose spouses are pastors. Please share your photos and stories.
Carol Barnhurst
Carol's Kids


Carol Barnhurst pulls a wisp of brown hair back from her forehead, asks the youth director about his ski wipeout, and tosses her van keys to a parent. Beside her are four coolers brimming with breads, granola bars and fruit. She could have stayed home this weekend; instead, she's been up since 5:00 a.m. making pancakes for a crowd, has braved outdoor wind-chill factors diving well below zero, and slept on a camp bed. 


Carol, a teacher and pastor's wife from Collinsville, Illinois, has led groups of young skiers to Michigan since 1990. But it's not the powder or vertical slopes which draw her. She no longer even has children of her own in the event. And it's not for the skiing. Carol says if it was just for the skiing, the event would have died long ago. "It's about leading youth to Jesus," she says of the ministry which features one-third raw fun, two-thirds relationships and 100 percent Jesus. "It's a recipe for youth to see Jesus through the Word," Carol continues. "It's a safe place; it's okay to have fun here." Read more.


Your ministry exploits will inspire other ministerial spouses. Please share them.

Retreat Memories


Retreats for ministerial spouses often offer the fellowship, enrichment, mentoring and support many desire. We invite you to read the following stories and view photos from two special weekends, which will give you glimpses into the blessings that can be obtained at the retreats. 


Andrews University Seminary Spouses in Ministry Retreat


Michigan Conference Ministry Wives Sleepover


In each issue, we will feature stories and photos from events that take place in the Division. Please submit your stories and photos here.

In This Issue
The Gift that Keeps Giving
10 Commandments of Personal Finance
Tax Man comes
Death a Minister Before
Conflicting Values at Home Creates Stress
Death of a Minister Before Retirement Creates a Family Crisis
Carol's Kids
Retreat Memories
Prayer and Praise

And this same God 
who takes care of me 
will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us
in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 NLT


On the MSA Facebook page, share with the other ministerial spouses how the Lord has blessed your family when you have had a serious financial need.


Submit a personal prayer request. Each prayer request will be prayed for individually.
Prayer Request
Pollyanna Prosper-Barnes and Baldwin Barnes

A pastoral couple from New York, Pollyanna Prosper-Barnes, Family Life and Children's Ministries director and Shepherdess leader of the Northeastern Conference, and Baldwin Barnes, pastor of Christian Fellowship SDA Church in Brooklyn, laid to rest their beloved son, David, on March 11. He was killed in a tragic vehicle accident in Accra, Ghana, where he was living and working. The funeral on March 10, in the Linden SDA Church, was a triumph of David's significant life. 


Please join us in special prayer for Pollyanna and Baldwin and their children, Byron and Gabrielle, as they mourn the loss of David and look forward to a family reunion when Jesus comes.
Artistic Musings


Listen to Wintley Phipps
unleash the power of "Amazing Grace" at Carnegie Hall.


In this section, we want to feature what you have created: a poem you've written, a painting you've completed or original music you've performed, etc. Submit here.   
Fit for Life

Cauliflower Steaks
Debi Pedersen was intrigued when she saw recipes to make cauliflower steaks. She said, "I had to give it a try. They are wonderfully easy and delicious." Read more.


Share health tips that work for you, like how you lost weight; healthy, quick, delicious recipes; depression busters, etc.
Financial Resources






2013 Church & Clergy Tax Guide

Richard R. Hammar

Christianity Today (2013)


America's Cheapest Family

Steve and Annette Economides 

Crown Publishing Associates (2007)


Counsels on Stewardship

Ellen G. White

Review & Herald Publishing Association (1940)


Faith and Finances

(DVD, Leader's Guide and Workbook)
G. Edward Reid

Review & Herald Publishing Association (2000)


Money Management for Canadians All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies

Andrew Bell, et al.

John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. (2008)


Personal Finance

for Dummies

Eric Tyson

John Wiley & Sons

(2009, Seventh Edition)

Stewardship Jack Series

(for children)

Janice Mathews

Review & Herald Publishing Association (2012)


The Adventist Home

pp. 367-398

Ellen G. White

Review & Herald Publishing Association (1952)


The Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey

Thomas Nelson

(2009, Third Edition)


The Total Money Makeover Workbook

Dave Ramsey

Thomas Nelson (2003)


The resources listed above may contain some useful information and tools to help you and your family discover the blessings of faithful stewardship. All content in these resources may not be fully endorsed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


We welcome your review
of a great book or resource. Submit here.
Words to Ponder

So don't worry about these things, saying, "What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?" These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 
Matthew 6:31, 32 NLT
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. 
Matthew 7:11 NLT
Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.
Will Smith 

Fresh Strength is published by the Ministerial Spouses Association of NAD Ministerial. Publisher: Ivan L. Williams; Editor: Donna Jackson; Managing Editor: Diane Thurber. Copyright 2012 North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. v(301) 680-6418